May You Find Rest
Amparo Carmen del Valle Velis
50 years old, El Salvador CA
Amparo has been dealt a tough hand in life, but she is forever grateful for the things God has blessed her with. Amparo was a first hand witness to the Civil War of El Salvador and the turmoil it threw her country into. She saw the deterioration of the government, recruitment of child soldiers, and the death of innocent civilians. Her father was among the many casualties of the war, leaving Amparo with a single mother who was barely able to support her family. Almost being recruited by the guerrillas, Amparo’s mother took her out of school and into hiding. Because of this, she was only able to complete second grade, and she was expected to work in order to help support her family. During this time she worked alongside her grandfather, a fisherman, who taught her how to tie and weave different types of fishing nets. Together, they developed this skill into the weaving of hammocks, another essential product in El Salvador.
Throughout her life, Amparo has developed her talent and learned various weaving patterns and hanging styles to accommodate any material she was able to get ahold of . She says she has grown to love this art form because very few people make hammocks by hand; everything is done by machine now. She finds joy in knowing that this is a talent that has been passed down through her family and will continue to live on after she is gone. Before the death of her husband, he built two contraptions that are still used every day by Amparo to make her hammocks. One is two bamboo poles set about six feet apart where she is able wrap the fabric around the poles and weave the body of the hammock. The second is a bicycle wheel that is connected to two hooks; as she spins the wheel two ropes intertwine, creating the ends of the hammock that allow it to be hung.
As a single mother, Amparo struggles to provide for her family and their daily needs. Aside from selling her hammocks, she brings in small earnings by washing clothes once a week for a family who lives far from her community. When choosing essentials like food and water, she always goes with the cheaper option and stretches her money to make the most of it. She even resorts to selling her hammocks for a price much lower than they're worth in order to put food on the table.
She has expressed to us that one of her goals is to teach all of her daughters how to weave just like her grandfather taught her. She wants their legacy to live on and to continue for generations to come. She also hopes that her daughters are able to continue their education, graduate from high school, attend college, and obtain a good job. Seeing her daughters overcome the poverty and violence that they currently live in would be one of her biggest accomplishments, she says.
We met Amparo for the first time in July of 2012. Ever since meeting her and hearing her story, we wanted to get to know her better and help her find the means to support herself and her entire family. In 2015 the first ITN Team went to El Salvador to restructure her home and put a new roof. As we continue to build and work with Amparo, we know that big things are on the horizon for her, her family, and her community. We know that she is an amazingly talented and loving woman, and we see huge potential in her. We want to walk with her towards the actualization of her goals. We want to help her leave her legacy!